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TCC : Our College : Our Leadership : President's Blog

President's Blog 

Nursing Baccalaureate Update

Jim Murdaugh, President Friday, April 17, 2015
It’s been about a year and a half since our trustees approved a measure to develop a proposal for a much-needed Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree​ at Tallahassee Community College, and just over a year since a moratorium was put in place by the Florida Legislature to halt all new degree programs in the Florida College System. 

With the moratorium soon expiring, we have much hope we will be able to proceed with our proposal and meet the needs of our regional healthcare providers. 

Until this past year, TCC has not been interested in baccalaureate programs. With two distinguished public universities next door, five private partner colleges and universities on our main campus and an effective 2+2 program state-wide, we offer a robust array of transfer opportunities for our students.

Why are we exploring a BSN program? 

First of all, this BSN is not a four-year program. Rather, it would add the two years of nursing necessary to obtain the BSN on top of the two years of study we already offer students who obtain an Associate Degree in Nursing in order to become a Registered Nurse. 

We are demand-driven and have a responsibility to local employers to meet their workforce needs. This effort began when Mark O’Bryant, president and CEO of Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare (TMH), came to us regarding the hospital’s decision to pursue “magnet” status which included moving to a minimum of 80% of their nurses with bachelor’s degrees. I went to FSU and FAMU to discuss this and to assure them that we had no interest in competing with them if they could meet this need. Because they recognized they would not be able to meet the new demand with their existing programs and had no plans for expansion, they supported a new option at TCC. 

We also have a responsibility to our alumni. The TCC nursing graduates at both TMH and Capital Regional Medical Center (CRMC) are highly regarded by hospital administrators. Our graduates who are employed as RNs will have a need for additional training. If they wish to earn a BSN, they would not be automatically accepted, and those who are would have to start over as freshmen. Furthermore, our graduates learn and earn right here in our district while FSU and FAMU graduates come here to attend school and often move home after graduation. 

With a new BSN program, our current nursing graduates could return to TCC, retain their credits, finish their bachelor’s degree in two years and stay competitive in the workplace. Likewise, new students could take advantage of our excellent facilities and pursue a career in the growing local healthcare job market at institutions such as TMH, CRMC, Westminster Oaks or the new VA hospital.  
For these reasons, we see a BSN program at TCC as a clear fulfillment of our College’s fundamental mission to meet regional workforce needs. 

Our community partners and our educational partners both support a new program. I want to thank Senator Bill Montford for his tireless efforts to lift the moratorium. I also want to thank the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce for passing a resolution of support. We are ready to move forward. 

Jim
​​​

Equity of Opportunity in Gadsden County

Jim Murdaugh, President Thursday, March 19, 2015

CROP-TSIC (640x452).jpgThe value of any community college to a student lies in their ability to provide not just opportunity, but equity of opportunity. Without understanding that students are individuals who chose our institution for unique reasons, we can fool ourselves into assuming that all students are alike. 

Where they come from, how they got here, and what their plans are for their future are all factors that influence a student from their very first day of class to the moment they receive their degree at graduation. 

I am proud to say that at Tallahassee Community College (TCC), we provide an environment designed to help all students thrive. You may have heard about our recent ranking as a top ten community college in the nation for our focus on college affordability, an impressive return on investment and a high success rate among our graduates. As access and success are strategic priorities for our College, we have worked hard to keep tuition low while maintaining the quality of our instruction, and this ranking demonstrates we are on target. 

We know that a student’s success at TCC often starts before they ever arrive at our doors. 

View the full Board of Trustees workshop presentation here​. 

During this week’s Board of Trustees meeting, several important leaders representing eight different College divisions or programs in Gadsden County presented on each of their respective areas – from the Florida Public Safety Institute (FPSI) to the Quincy House to Workforce Development. Collectively, these organizations serve thousands of individuals ranging in age from middle school students to seniors.    

Why so many programs and why are they so important? 

Gadsden is a county that faces many challenges. As of this past December, the unemployment rate stood at 6.1%, nearly a full percentage point higher than the state and national average. The school district has the 16th highest high school drop-out rate in the state. According to the 2010 census, about one in four people were below the poverty line, and nearly one in three subsist on public assistance and supplemental security income. 

During the presentation it was mentioned that last year FPSI welcomed over 4,000 students and 20,000 visitors to its campus, and they are currently partnering with 32 different law enforcement agencies across the state with plans to expand their national and international training. 

The College Reach Out Program (CROP) and Take Stock in Children (TSIC) programs offered through the college serve nearly 100 middle and high school students with advising, mentoring and scholarships. In 2014, 100% of those who participated graduated from high school and 88% now attend TCC. The Educational Talent Search program serves nearly 500 of the same age, most from low-income, disadvantaged households and they also saw a high school graduation rate of 70% last year with 80% going on to TCC. By comparison, Gadsden County graduation rate overall was 56%.

GadsdenGroundbreaking2014 (640x371).jpgWe have also broken ground on a new Gadsden Center in Quincy which, when it opens later this year, will further support both the academic and the workforce sides of the house. The important point is that we are putting down permanent roots in Gadsden and we are making a difference.

These facts and figures do not adequately convey the tremendous amount of work that is done to make each area a success. What we accomplish through the leadership of our talented men and women who deliver these programs is more than a job, it’s a passion and as Trustee Kilpatrick put it, “pride.” 

TCC has made a commitment to finding solutions and making a difference in Gadsden County. Federal grants expire and there will always be adversities to overcome, but with the help and cooperation of County officials and the School Board, I believe we can continue to impact our community in a positive way. Let’s keep moving forward. 

Jim​


Second Chances, Better Futures

Jim Murdaugh, President Wednesday, February 25, 2015

This week, I had the pleasure of serving as the speaker at the Gadsden Re-Entry Center’s first GED graduation. For those of you who aren’t aware, the Center is located on TCC’s Florida Public Safety Institute campus and is one of just five such facilities in the state and the only place in the country where a prison sits on a college campus. It serves the entire Panhandle in preparing inmates to re-enter society and the workforce. 

When we fail to appreciate everyone’s journey, we lose sight of who they are as people. At that ceremony, I saw men who knew why they were there, but also knew they wanted a better future.​

One of my goals as a leader has always been to create equity of opportunity so any student can become a responsible citizen. So bringing a re-entry center to our region back in 2012 was an important project to me, and one I felt fit wholly in line with our mission as an open education institution. The graduation certainly affirmed this. In fact, it reminded me why I love the work we do here at the College. 

Everyone’s journey to success is different, and that journey is never a solo one. Our job as educators is to help remove roadblocks, give hope and provide the support system each student needs to achieve their full potential. 

In my remarks, I spoke to the fact that there is no straight line to any goal. To obtain a degree, whether it is a high school diploma or a PhD, you must be dedicated and willing to make sacrifices. It’s not for the lazy or weak. These particular graduates had to study in a prison setting with the weight of their past on their shoulders. I imagine there was no small amount of self-doubt that they could even finish. 

But they did and because of that, I have the utmost respect for these individuals. They were adults, many of them parents, who had made a conscious decision to improve their lives and be a role model for their families. And with their GED, they now have choices they never had before. 

When we fail to appreciate everyone’s journey, we lose sight of who they are as people. At that ceremony, I saw men who knew why they were there, but also knew they wanted a better future. The pride I saw in their eyes and heard in their comments was something I am grateful to have experienced firsthand. Helping students who choose TCC is why all of us at the college get up every morning and do what we do. Seeing the impact of our efforts is the ultimate paycheck.

Jim


Happy Holidays 2014

Jim Murdaugh, President Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Every year, I look forward to observing Christmas as part of my personal faith. I also take the time to try to learn something new about the many different nationalities and beliefs represented in our College and throughout our community. With students, faculty and staff from over 80 countries, I think it is important to take a moment and recognize the great diversity of holidays that are also celebrated in December from Hanukkah to Kwanzaa.
 
There’s so much good cheer going around this time of year. Let’s keep that going by embracing this season not just for each individual holiday, but as a larger celebration of diversity and acceptance.
 
I want to wish our TCC family and friends a joyous holiday season. If you are traveling, be safe on the roads. Otherwise, I hope you share your time with those you care about, laugh a lot, and remember that the best things in life are not things.

Jim


Let's Make Thanksgiving a Habit

Jim Murdaugh, President Monday, November 24, 2014

​Every morning, before the rest of my household is awake, I pour myself a cup of coffee, sit down (lately in front of the fire) and practice what I like to call daily gratitude. This is the time I take to reflect on the things I am thankful for that day. Some items on this list repeat, but others I am reminded of from the previous day’s events, maybe during a staff meeting or at a reception or even just by a chance encounter with an old friend.

Thanksgiving is not just a celebration reserved for once a year, it is a verb and it should happen every day.

This exercise has changed the way I approach all the relationships in my life for the better. I find that the more appreciation I practice, the easier it is to empathize and understand others.

Thanksgiving is not just a celebration reserved for once a year, it is a verb and it should happen every day. Repeated actions become habits and our habits are what make us who we are. As we approach the holidays, I want to invite all our campus family to practice daily gratitude. I believe it was Plato that once wrote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” This couldn’t be truer of our campus family. The longer I am in this position, the more I get to hear others’ stories and the more I realize we all need to pause and appreciate those who we work with because many are fighting harder battles.

With that said, I want to express my gratitude to all those who make our campus a great place to learn and work. Thank you for all you do and have a happy Thanksgiving!

Jim


A View Ahead

Jim Murdaugh, President Monday, October 6, 2014

Last week I traveled to Orlando where I took part in the Future of Florida forum and was a part of a panel discussing the state of higher education and how to assess and meet the needs of Florida workforce moving forward. Later in the week I attended another forum back in town on the Future of Higher Education in Florida in which participants discussed attainment, accountability and challenging status quo ideas of post-secondary learning.

These are the conversations I love to have – outlook, opportunity and how we can position ourselves to leapfrog ahead and meet the students where they will be instead of where they are now.

As many of you are now aware, Tallahassee Community College is in the process of implementing a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. What many of you may not know is that it took us years to find the right system, not only because of the massive scope of such a project, but because it seemed as though most of the systems we looked at represented incremental progress. When we selected our new system, it was because it was an innovative, cloud-based system that would provide solutions to problems students, faculty and staff have today as well as those they would have years from now. That’s leapfrogging ahead.

T​he state of higher education

There is a shift happening in higher ed. A few short years ago, degrees were considered a proxy for job-applicable skillsets. You went to college, earned your degree, interviewed for jobs, and then were hired, all on the assumption that if you had a degree you had everything you needed to perform the duties assigned. Today, employers are in need of more well-rounded professionals and are telling us graduates are in serious need of more soft skills like networking, email etiquette or how to conduct a productive team meeting, things that are often neglected in non-business degree tracks.

There is also disruption in evaluation and instructional formats. Traditionally, teaching is assessed in brick and mortar classrooms where time is considered a constant (one semester) and learning a variable (grades A down to F). That model is now being challenged. Learning needs to be assessed more than teaching, in spaces when and where the students are. And time, not learning, needs to be seen as the variable. 

There is much more to come. Our College is poised for some big changes ahead and this is just the beginning of what I see as a tremendous future.​

Our focus will move towards measuring learning outcomes. We need to provide a variety of teaching modes to fit the content, the student’s capability and our rapidly diversifying labor market. 

To be fair, these changes have been a long time coming. When I got my first promotion into a management position, I started in my new role the following day but was told the next training workshop wouldn’t be for another six months. Unfortunately, by the time that workshop rolled around, it was too late to be helpful and worse yet, it was a waste of time. What I needed was “just enough, just in time” training. 

Students should be able to brush up on skills or add new ones. They should be able to work on customizable micro-credentials while earning their degree. And they should be able to start anytime, learn anytime, finish anytime.

To add another layer to all this, we need to also consider the changing landscape of technology. New platforms and products crop up every day. Most fade, but some go on to become indispensable to everyday life. Think the POP3 server, Facebook and blogs (like this one!)

At our College, I feel it is essential to choose technology solutions that move us to the head of the industry and not restrict us to the minimum of innovation. This was why I couldn’t be more excited for our landmark partnership with Workday or this year’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) focus on digital literacy

Moving forward

These are just two of the projects our College has embarked on to transform the way we align with the new face of education and the tools of tomorrow. There is much more to come. Our College is poised for some big changes ahead and this is just the beginning of what I see as a tremendous future.

My job is to identify the changes and help guide us to that future. With my next few blogs, I will be writing on the role I see each of us as stakeholders of TCC playing in the coming years and how we will all coordinate to embrace the new era of higher education. These groups include, but are not limited to, students, faculty, staff, trustees, board members, community leaders and our education partners. My hope is that through these and other discussions, we can better understand where we are headed and continue our dialogue of how we will get there. Stay tuned.

Jim ​​​


Announcing the Institute for Nonprofit Innovation and Excellence

Jim Murdaugh, President Tuesday, June 24, 2014

INIE-1_6-24-14.jpgToday, Tallahassee Community College launched a brand new initiative for nonprofits in our community. Many of you may have already heard about this project from all the interest it has generated in the past few weeks. In truth this has been something I’ve been planning for years.

I have a passion for nonprofits. They are a vastly underappreciated and underrepresented component of local economic growth and I believe you cannot have a vibrant economy without them. Several years ago a study was done on Leon County nonprofits. According to data recorded from 2004 operating revenues, the 251 total organizations in existence at the time had created 4,216 jobs generating $144.4 million in total gross wages annually, and a gross annual output of nearly $300 million. In 2007, a survey indicated that “annually 82% of all Leon County nonprofit operating revenues are expended within Leon County.”*

Today, our region is home to over 600 501(c)(3) Charitable Not for Profit Organizations. If their collective revenues have increased relative to their rate of growth, you can imagine what their fiscal contribution to our local economy is now.

And yet, the nonprofit sector is still in many ways “an invisible part of the local economy.”* My goal is to change that. It’s why I am a member of a number of nonprofit boards and why I insisted on adding a fee-free nonprofit seat on the Economic Development Council when I became chair last year. It’s why I am president of TCC, an institution that was founded on the same principles that guide nonprofits – education and public service. And it’s why I spearheaded an initiative at the College that will help our area’s nonprofits. 

INIE-2_6-24-14.jpgWhat I dreamed up, Kimberly Moore, vice president for Workforce Development, and her team has made happen. My idea of a training center with robust resources and services to “advocate, educate and engage” our nonprofits was just that, a dream. But together with some key partners, we have made it a reality.

It is with great pleasure that we announced the launch of the new Institute for Nonprofit Innovation and Excellence, or INIE for short, downtown at the TCC Capitol Center today. We hosted a number of guest speakers and also released the full list of our programs for the next year which will include workshops and networking events. For all the details, please visit www.theinstitutefornonprofits.org.

Nonprofits have always provided unparalleled social and economic value. I am looking forward to seeing the impact INIE will have in helping these great organizations and our community grow.

Jim

* Economic Assessment of the Leon County 501(c)(3) Charitable Not for Profit Organizations and Impact Contributions to the Tallahassee and Leon County Economy [Study by United Partners for Human Services in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation]

 

Providing Equity of Opportunity for Our Students

Jim Murdaugh, President Thursday, May 29, 2014

BMA_Feb14.jpgA couple weeks ago, I received an evaluation of the Black Male Achievers (BMA) program in my inbox. For those of you who don’t know, BMA is a TCC student organization designed to empower and educate its black male students on the importance of the successful completion of their post-secondary education through the practices of academic, social and occupational excellence. I had requested the evaluation in order to determine the educational and personal impact of this program on its participants.   

Learn more about Black Male Achievers​

According to the data collected, it was found that BMA members have higher course success rates, higher retention rates, and a higher graduation rate compared to their non-BMA peers. Five of the program’s members are active members of Student Government Association (SGA) and of the twelve members who graduated from TCC this month, most will be transferring on to a state university.  

Perhaps more significantly, all of the members of BMA reported the program has made a positive impact on their lives, empowering them as students and as citizens to be the change they wish to see in the world. They cited their exposure to positive role models, opportunities to network with professionals, exposure to black history and opportunities to give back to the community as benefits of the program, creating an environment that supports student success. One student stated that the program helped him get his life back on track, while another called it a “life changer.” Through the requirements of the program, rules become habits and habits become success. 

Why is this important?     

At the core of every higher education mission is the desire to bring out the best in students through opportunity. But at an open education institution like ours, we bring out the best in students through equity of opportunity. We aren’t admitting cookie-cutter students based on someone’s opinion of what a perfect academic should be. We are open education which means we welcome a vibrant and diverse group of individuals with unique needs and goals.  Our job is to create the setting where any student, regardless of race, gender, religion, etc., can take their first step towards realizing their full potential.  

We cannot demand success from our students without providing a variety of outlets through which they can grow as individuals.​​ 

We cannot demand success from our students without providing a variety of outlets through which they can grow as individuals. This is why we have programs like BMA, Connect2Complete, Phi Theta Kappa, Model United Nations, Theatre TCC, STEM programs, International Student Organization, Student Veterans Association and many others. It’s why we have enriching study abroad programs, a well-equipped library and an award-winning tutoring center. These are not officious organizations and services meant to make us look better on paper; they are living, breathing resources that provide the equity of opportunity our students need.     

Equity of opportunity also means going beyond our campus. Relationships with area universities and partnerships with local businesses are equally vital. From the on-campus university partners to our workforce training clients, we are always working on paths to help students along after graduation. In fact, I feel there is a need for an annual meeting with Florida State University and Florida A&M University leadership to evaluate the value of our current degrees and catalog the region’s needs.     

Resolve is, of course, the student’s responsibility – college is hard work and takes no small amount of perseverance – but providing equity of opportunity is our responsibility. To that end, we will proudly continue to foster organizations such as BMA and the valuable qualities they promote in our students.

Jim ​​​​​​


Celebrating the Future: Congratulations, Class of 2014

Jim Murdaugh, President Thursday, April 24, 2014

We’ve reached one of my favorite times of the year. Spring is in the air, the semester is winding down and another great academic year is wrapping up. But most importantly, next weekend, we will get to gather together to celebrate the successes of our wonderful graduates, the class of 2014. 

Graduation is bittersweet, of course, as we are also saying goodbye. I always hope that the students we send off will not become strangers. There are many benefits to staying in our community and giving back. Whether it is continuing an education at any of the world-class universities in town, or securing a public or private sector job and putting down roots, Tallahassee offers lots of opportunities. 

And TCC has given our graduates the skills and credentials to take advantage of any of these opportunities. We pride ourselves in teaching not just academics, but citizenship and service as well. Our students become nurses, police officers, water quality technicians, and software developers. Their education makes them competitive in their chosen markets and highly employable. For every dollar students invest in themselves at TCC, their future income is increased by about $6.50, or an average of 17% return on investment. Likewise, for every dollar of state tax money invested in TCC, $3.60 is returned to the taxpayers and overall, our College boosts the local economies in our service area by $387.7 million annually. 

However, though our impact can be seen on a large scale, it is only achieved through individualized experiences. Our students are not just another number here. We are so very proud of each and every one of them. Students like Candace Tibbetts, who was recently named to the All-Florida Academic Team, or Anthony Johnson, this year’s commencement speaker, or the TCC Model United Nations group or the TCC Softball team or Theatre TCC!, whom have all represented our College with distinction this year. But also the students who come to class every day and do the work that will benefit themselves and their families. We recognize the drive in each of them and are continuously inspired by their determination. Our doors will always be open to them, even after graduation, and we hope they will feel welcome to come back and say hello, attend a community event, maybe even take another class or two. 

Finally, to the TCC class of 2014 I want to say, graduation is not the last stop on the road, it’s the first stop. That’s why it is called “commencement.” My advice is to recognize that the future will bring challenges as well as rewards so prepare accordingly. Continuing your education, informally or formally, will help you along your journey no matter where your ambitions take you. 

Congratulations, graduates, and best wishes! 

Jim​​


Announcing the TCC2FSU Golden Guarantee Program

Jim Murdaugh, President Wednesday, February 26, 2014

TCC2FSU_LogoSquare.jpgThis week, our College was proud to launch the TCC2FSU Golden Guarantee Program. This program offers guaranteed admission into Florida State University for those students who continue to meet the academic requirements to complete their Associate in Arts degree program at Tallahassee Community College. It will also be a great opportunity for students who want to go to FSU but were not admitted initially. This pathway will allow them to achieve that goal.   

The program is another demonstration of the proven partnership between TCC and FSU. We are the #1 transfer school to Florida State in addition to being #1 nationally in producing A.A. degrees among two-year colleges. Studies have shown, our students do well at FSU and graduate at the same rate as their classmates who started at FSU. They thrive in the classroom and in the Seminole community having already developed friendships in their first two years in Tallahassee.     

This program is designed to help our students start right and stay on track for their FSU degrees with customized orientations, individualized advising, and special opportunities to participate in activities at FSU.  Of course, participants will also enjoy the personal touch that our caring faculty and staff offer in and out of the classroom.   

I would like to point out that the TCC2FSU program is just one of the many transfer pathways we have established or are currently working on to ensure our students’ success beyond our College.  We know that students are attracted to Tallahassee because of the excellent opportunities our community provides in higher education. The diversity of these opportunities is directly represented here at TCC where, in addition to the public universities, we partner  with five different private colleges and universities who offer many in-demand baccalaureate degrees right here on our campus.  

These programs are important not just to TCC and our partner universities; they are important to our community today and will continue to increase in significance in the future.​ 

We have also set up guaranteed transfer programs to FAMU and UWF which we will launch this spring, and we are in talks with other four-year schools that are looking for more qualified transfer students like those here at TCC. I hope to establish many partnerships of this nature in the months and years to come so that our students can have as many options as possible.   

These programs are important not just to TCC and our partner universities; they are important to our community today and will continue to increase in significance in the future. The more students we bring to our area and the more graduates we retain locally, the more we invigorate our economy. This will pay dividends for our community.   

 I encourage students to consider the TCC2FSU Golden Guarantee Program. Those who are interested can learn more about program benefits and application details at: www.tcc.fl.edu/tcc2fsu

Jim  ​


Celebrating Black History Month at TCC

Jim Murdaugh, President Tuesday, January 28, 2014

On Monday, TCC unveiled our 14th annual Cherry Alexander African-American History Calendar in a special event that both showcased the calendar’s 14 honorees and kicked off our celebration of Black History Month. This year’s theme for the calendar was, “Civil Rights Unsung Heroes: Great by Choice” and each of the individuals featured in the calendar were chosen for their significant contributions to the community.   

During the ceremony, I found myself reflecting on the “great by choice” theme. The calendar’s honorees were all pioneering leaders who at any point in their careers could have chosen an easier path. Fortunately for all of us, they chose to be the first to break through their respective barriers, improving the path for all those who would follow and promoting our country’s founding principles of equality and opportunity.    

Diversity, particularly as a minority serving institution, among our student population as well as among our faculty and staff, is a great source of pride for our College.​

I also appreciate the theme because TCC is known as the “college of choice,” a tagline which I feel has many different meanings. For example, we are the college of choice for over 4,700 African American students. (For perspective: that is just over half as many students as Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University enrolled in Fall 2012.) In 2013, we were ranked fifth in the nation among two-year colleges in awarding associate degrees to African American students having graduated over 700 African American students. 

We are also the employer of choice for many outstanding African American faculty and staff like recently retired math professor Mac McCorvey who, until his retirement, was the most senior faculty member at the college, and Kimberly Moore, vice president for workforce development who was appointed to the FAMU Board of Trustees last year and selected by the Florida Diversity Council to receive their 2014 Florida Most Powerful and Influential Woman Award. 

Diversity, particularly as a minority serving institution, among our student population as well as among our faculty and staff, is a great source of pride for our College. The cultural richness that comes as a result is not only a fortunate side-effect of our open-education policy, it has become an essential component of our collective success. Every day thousands of students, faculty and staff come together on this campus. They bring their own individual experiences, insights, and talents, and together they create something cool, something new, something better.  We are, and always will be, greater than the sum of our parts and that is the story of our College.

Jim​


What Student Veterans Mean to Our College

Jim Murdaugh, President Wednesday, November 6, 2013

In Memorium display at the TCC Veteran's Center

Many may not know it, but modern higher education owes a great deal to the military. 

The months and years following the end of World War II was a time of change. With all the veterans returning from war, leadership recognized an opportunity to help transition our nation into the new world order and passed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, more commonly known as the G.I. Bill. The Bill paid educational tuition and board, and made college accessible for many veterans who couldn’t have afforded it otherwise. As a result, tens of thousands of much-needed college educated engineers, teachers, scientists and other professionals were graduated over the next few years and colleges and universities grew and flourished along with the nation’s economy. 

Today, student veterans continue to benefit institutions of higher education everywhere. Their perspective improves each initiative, organization and classroom they participate in. Their maturity and discipline add incalculable value to any student body. 

Almost every decision I’ve made and will continue to make at Tallahassee Community College works back to the end goal of creating a learning environment that produces well-rounded global citizens. We have a responsibility to provide degrees with both market value and social value. We are committed to producing citizens with diversity and distinction who promote democracy and understand service. Veteran students are particularly well-suited for this. They have come to our campus from all paths having made a conscious decision to better their lives. In turn, TCC strives to provide the resources to help them transition back into a meaningful civilian life, including: 

At the TCC Veteran's Center with Student Veterans Association President Ryan McKibbenVeteran’s Affairs​ is a specialized office that provides exclusive services to eligible veterans, dependents, active duty servicepersons, and members of the Selected Reserve. 

The Student Veteran’s Association is a non-political student organization that promotes a welcoming atmosphere for all branches of prior military service and their supporters. They participate in many community events including the Tallahassee Veteran’s Day parade. .

The Veteran’s Center is a recently opened space dedicated to helping veterans in their transition to college. Everything from academic advising to management training to academic tutoring is offered there. 

A dedicated VA adviser is now available two days a week in the Veteran’s Center to facilitate veterans and dependents with VA benefits, GI Bill programs, work study opportunities and more. 

GI benefits programs are available to all veterans and active duty servicepersons with one-on-one guidance offered to help students identify the best program to fit their educational goals. 

It is our honor to be considered a “veteran friendly” college and to be one of the 250 institutions participating in the 8 Keys to Success. Our College will continue to do everything we can to promote those who have served our country. Their stories of dedication and sacrifice are a constant inspiration.  We owe a great debt to them, greater than we can repay. Our sincerest thanks to them.

Jim 


Moving Forward with an RN-to-Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program

Jim Murdaugh, President Tuesday, October 22, 2013

It was January 21, 1964 when an official request was made to conduct a survey to determine if there was a need for a two-year junior college in the Leon, Wakulla and Gadsden county area. Two years later, Tallahassee Community College, then known as Tallahassee Junior College, opened its doors.

TCC District Board of Trustees Meeting 10-21-13Yesterday’s Board of Trustees meeting marked another important milestone in our history – I brought to vote and the Board approved a measure to move forward with the development of a proposal for adding a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree for those who already have an Associate in Science in Nursing. I brought it forward because I believe the timing is compelling and the three objectives we set for ourselves at the beginning of this discussion have been met: 

It is good for our students. 

One of our College’s primary missions has always been to provide a high quality, affordable learning environment. I place great value in that. No degree we offer should be financially inaccessible. Our research shows our College can offer an RN to BSN program with no substantial increase in tuition. With facilities already in place at the Ghazvini Center, virtually no new resources would be needed and start-up costs can remain low. 

We also researched retention rates, licensure rates, optimal class times, degree path – all aspects of the student experience in a new nursing program have been vetted. Finally, we reached out to our current students, alumni and community to see if this is something they wanted. The response was an overwhelming, resounding ‘YES.’ 

It is good for our community. 

Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare President and CEO Mark O’Bryant spoke at the meeting yesterday on the value of our graduates at TMH, and how their education, qualifications and confidence in their practice make them preferred hires. However, in three years’ time their hospital’s Nurse Residency Program will require baccalaureate degrees. Regardless of how notable our current grads are, they would have been excluded. I am glad to say we will not be turning our backs on them. 

@GoToTCC Facebook Screenshot on Four-Year DiscussionIn addition to TMH, I was contacted by other local healthcare organizations such as Capital Regional Medical Center, Westminster Oaks and the upcoming VA hospital, and they have expressed similar sentiments. The need is there. They are ready for us to meet it. Of course, I also did not move forward until many discussions and planning meetings were conducted with our University Partners to ensure that our forward momentum would not interfere with their programs’ success. Our goal was always to create growth opportunities, not a competitive environment. 

It is good for our College. 

Relevancy is a priority for any higher education institution.  The writing is on the wall in the Florida College System with 24 of the 28 institutions having already begun adding four-year programs. A paradigm shift is happening. All the same, being at the front of the pack is less important to me than fiscal stewardship so we ran the numbers to make sure a new nursing program would be financially viable. Happily, our research shows that a baccalaureate degree in nursing would bring in significant revenue, a welcome concept in lean budget years. State legislature has also already committed a total of $30 million to expand baccalaureate degrees in Florida, funds we would not have been eligible for without the Board’s decision yesterday. 

Moving this initiative from idea to vote has assured me of just how much our Trustees love our College, something I was already well aware of. We’ve had many good conversations and I respect all sides greatly. 

Now that the decision has been made, the real work begins. At this point, it is premature to talk about changing the name. If our proposal is approved, then we will have to entertain that conversation. We’ve got a lot of t’s to cross and i’s to dot over the coming months and years. However, I fully anticipate this process will go smoother than most would think. Demand-driven initiatives tend to do that, in my experience. All are welcome to leave any comments or questions on my Facebook page at facebook.com/jimmurdaugh, or join us at our next Strategic Plan event on October 30 at 5:30 p.m. at the Florida Public Safety Institute in Gadsden County.

Jim​​​


Creating a Better College - Strategic Enrollment Management and the Strategic Plan

Thursday, September 26, 2013

IMG_8296.JPGGood things come to those who research thoroughly, plan accordingly and execute decisively.   

During the month of October, the College will be presenting our brand new five-year Strategic Plan to the community in three open forum events. The Plan outlines nine priorities, 35 strategies and has already prompted some very exciting discussions and commitments around here. But our work has only just begun.   

Enrollment is one of the Plan’s top priorities under which we will be developing and executing a Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) plan to take effect during the 2014-15 academic year. To be clear, an SEM plan is more than just more students; SEM is a comprehensive process that encompasses everything from growing signature programs to recruiting top students to managing student success to helping alumni achieve their career goals. It is designed to guide a sustained and healthy increase in student and institutional success.   

In short, this new SEM plan will keep TCC moving forward.

What does all this mean for you? Among many other things:

For students, your student experience will receive a facelift – applying, orientation, enrollment, career planning, learning resources, co-curricular activities, and graduation, these and other student touch points will be streamlined and improved.     

For faculty, academic programs will be assessed for need and opportunity, advising and career counseling will be refined, and we will be developing or expanding strategies for early alert and intervention. We will also plan for better professional development and technology implementation. We want to make sure our instructors have the resources they need for our students to succeed.   

For staff, we will foster a culture of evaluation and feedback from all resource areas so each staff member has the tools to identify areas of improvement for everything from the application process to record keeping to campus communications.                     

For our community, this will mean TCC will continue to remain relevant and useful in today’s ever-changing education landscape.   

SEM is just part of our overall Strategic Plan. To hear more about our other priorities, please join us one of the three Strategic Plan events:         

  • Wakulla County on October 1 at 5:30 p.m. at the Wakulla Center      
  • Leon County on October 21 at 5:30 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom on TCC’s Main Campus
  • Gadsden County on October 30 at 5:30 p .m. at the Florida Public Safety Institution 

For more information about our Strategic Plan, SEM or any of the upcoming events, visit the Strategic Plan section of our Web site.   

Jim ​​​


My Take on This Week's Discussions

Jim Murdaugh, President Thursday, August 22, 2013

Monday’s Board of Trustees workshop saw a historic discussion take place – will TCC become a state college? It’s an excellent question, and one we wouldn’t be asking ourselves if a need hadn’t arisen from the community.    

First of all, it’s important to note that of the 28 schools in the Florida College System, 23 have already added four-year programs. This signals a distinct change in the system and we need to think of what this means for our College.   

Secondly, over recent months both of our Tallahassee area hospitals have come to me expressing a growing necessity for an RN to BSN program to keep up with growing industry demands.   

 

Asking the question does not force us in any direction, but not asking the question does.   ​

 

TCC has always had a commitment to our community. We respond quickly to the workforce needs of those we serve, and those we serve have in turn come to trust us to fulfill those needs. This simple model has seen our College grow from just a small junior college to the #1 A.A. producing two-year College in the nation with over 20,000 students and more than 90 academic and career programs.   

Three years ago, while interviewing for this position, I was asked about implementing baccalaureate degree programs in the future. I said then and I maintain today, it is helpful for any college to ask itself from time to time how well it is meeting the expectations of its students and its community. Asking the question does not force us in any direction, but not asking the question does.   

What we have to do at this point is talk, and listen. In order to move forward, we will need to determine if adding four-year degrees will be good for, 1) the community, 2) the students, and 3) the College. We will be having lots of conversations with our District Board of Trustees, our faculty and staff, our students, our partners, our employers, our alumni and the public at large. It’s going to take a while, but we want to invite all viewpoints and weigh all the pros and cons.   

I don’t believe in change for change’s sake. However, if we do find an unmet need we are well positioned to meet, we will need to have a willingness to go where the data takes us.     

Over the coming weeks and months, we will be opening up forums and hosting events to facilitate discussion on this big issue. In the meantime, I invite you to visit my Facebook page and leave your comments at www.facebook.com/jimmurdaugh  I look forward to hearing your feedback.   

Jim​


Getting Involved

Jim Murdaugh, President Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tallahassee may be a little city, but it’s got big dreams. 

The melting pot that exists here between students and government, transients and natives, young and old produces a wonderfully diversified culture. From a leadership perspective, that can sometimes be a challenge, but more often than not, I’ve found that an assortment of perspectives leads to more creative ideas and better solutions. 

For that reason, I like to take collaborative approach to decision-making whenever possible. For example, the College’s recently finalized Strategic Plan was the result of months of surveys, town hall meetings and research, listening to faculty, staff, students, and the community in order to formulate priorities and strategies for the next five years.  TCC now has an excellent plan to move forward with focused goals that encompass all areas of our College. 

 I believe it is my privilege and duty to be involved in the community as much as humanly possible, and I also encourage our faculty, staff, and students to do the same.
The grassroots initiative Imagine Tallahassee, which I am excited to be a part of, has followed a similar path. Their mission is to provide citizens with a chance to brand Tallahassee by creating a long-term community vision. They have now hosted multiple forums and roundtables for the public, and plan to host more through partners around town. I believe the resulting strategy will be dynamic, exciting and more importantly, integral to the future of Tallahassee. The results of this effort will serve to help policy-makers identify projects that they can fund to grow the economy of our region.  

I’m also honored to have been selected as chair of the Economic Development Council of Tallahassee/Leon County (EDC), a post which I will assume this coming October. In line with Imagine Tallahassee, the EDC is committed to economic prosperity in our community.  They appreciate the different facets of Tallahassee’s identity and want to see its full potential realized through the combined effort of its citizens, private sector, education and local government. I’m definitely enthusiastic about the work both Imagine Tallahassee and the EDC are about to do in the next year or two. 

The reason I am telling you all this is to explain one of my principle motivations as president of TCC. I believe it is my privilege and duty to be involved in the community as much as humanly possible, and I also encourage our faculty, staff, and students to do the same. 

Our College has worked hard since 1966 to be a valuable resource to the community and every year, we continue to attract and support more students and business to this area. We place great value in those who utilize our institution to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, get their education and become successful and productive citizens. We think these individuals are Tallahassee’s most valuable resource. And after graduation, some are leaving the community to find jobs. 

This is why TCC wants to not only be the college of choice for our students, we also want to be the partner of choice in our community. We want to be a force for progress in Tallahassee and I believe that with the efforts of organizations like EDC and Imagine Tallahassee, a fantastic synergy can be achieved between the education and employment of top talent, and the progress of the entire community. We should welcome crowd-sourcing and citizen engagement. We need existing businesses to thrive, new businesses to choose to move here, and employment options that keep our graduates here.  

We need as much input and ownership from the public as we can get to achieve these goals. I invite all of you to get involved. This is our town, our home, and we have the opportunity to shape its development. Whether it is participating in an Imagine Tallahassee forum, a TCC student organization or a public service project, get involved. 

​​Jim


My Trip to Washington

Jim Murdaugh, President Friday, February 22, 2013

Capitol2_2-12-13small.jpgLast week, I traveled to Washington, DC with TCC Trustees Dana Callen, Allison DeFoor, Eugene Lamb and Karen Moore to participate in the National Legislative Summit hosted by the Association for Community College Trustees. The Summit offered us the rare opportunity to meet with trustees and presidents from community colleges around the country and be briefed on key federal issues impacting our colleges. We are grateful at TCC to have a board that is engaged in federal, state and local issues that affect our college and our ability to serve students.   

The week before our trip to Washington, many of our trustees also attended the Association of Florida Colleges legislative conference hosted here in Tallahassee. Both programs helped our trustees become more familiar with issues that could have a cascading impact on higher education in Florida and across the US.     

RepSoutherland2_2-13small.jpgWhile in Washington, we also took the opportunity to meet with our congressional members to share with them the importance of keeping our “open door” open to students with access to financial aid and academic resources. We also updated them on the College’s efforts to support economic and workforce development in our region.   

We extend our thanks and gratitude to Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio and Representative Steve Southerland – and their respective staffs – for their interest in our College, for taking the time to meet with us while we were in Washington, and for their service to the citizens of Florida. They are very familiar with the issues impacting community colleges at the state and federal levels and I am confident that they are fighting for us every day. 

Jim​​


The Wakulla Environmental Institute

Jim Murdaugh, President Monday, January 14, 2013

WEIheader.jpg

​First of all, I want to thank Doug Blackburn and the Tallahassee Democrat for their article in last Sunday’s paper on the Wakulla Environmental Institute (WEI), as well as the follow-up editorial on January 9th. As Doug put it, we are “gung-ho” about the Institute and its potential, and we appreciate the shared enthusiasm. 

It is true that WEI is going to be a big deal. That’s an understatement, really. When it is finished, this multi-million dollar project will become a world-class destination for education, conservation and recreation. The initial facility, which we hope to break ground on this year, will be situated at the heart of the fifth hottest biodiversity spot in the nation on 158 acres and will feature landscapes so beautiful, it will make you want to come back again and again. (We’re counting on it.) It is also important to note that from this location, the Institute will have direct access to over one million acres of state and federal land and water.  

For more information on the Wakulla Environmental Institute, visit: www.tcc.fl.edu/WEI​​​

For students, WEI will mean innovative classes on the cutting-edge of environmental studies that result in focused degrees and in-demand job opportunities.  For county residents, it will mean 900 permanent and sustainable private-sector jobs in fishing, aqua culture, green business and more. For visitors, it will mean access to beautiful hiking trails, a private sink hole and a plethora of plant and animal life as part of a working research area. 

We believe Wakulla has a lot to offer. With the Institute, we look forward to showcasing the county’s best qualities. Of course, there is still a lot of planning to do and hurdles to overcome. I applaud the continued hard work of individuals like Trustee Allison DeFoor and Executive Director Bob Ballard as well as the amazing people who have agreed to serve on our new WEI Advisory Board who is helping to bring the project together. I especially appreciate Wakulla County leaders’ readiness to come together, roll up their sleeves and make this happen. A community in action like this is truly an awesome sight to behold. In the meantime, I hope everyone will please bear with us as we plan, build and realize this dream of ours. Stay tuned for more updates. 

Jim


Happy Holidays from TCC

Jim Murdaugh, President Tuesday, December 18, 2012

​As we prepare for the holiday season, it’s a great time to reflect on the year that’s coming to a close. We’re so grateful for the continued support of our friends, students and their families. We’re also thankful for the many contributions of our faculty and staff. Our national recognition this year as one of the best colleges to work for in America and one of the top associate’s degree producers in the country is the direct result of these contributions and the support we receive from so many.

We’re proud to be the college of choice for students in this community and look forward to serving our students in the year to come with outstanding programs and services that support their success while maintaining access and keeping our costs low. 

Happy Holidays to you and yours from Tallahassee Community College.

Jim

 

Check out President Murdaugh's holiday message on the latest episode of the TCC Report:

 

 


Celebrate Diversity

Jim Murdaugh, President Monday, December 10, 2012

IMG_6056-small.jpgAs many of you may already know thanks to our recent International Education Week, TCC is privileged to have 83 different countries represented by our student body. In light of that, I think it is important to take a moment and recognize the great diversity of holidays that are celebrated internationally in December. For example, here are just some of the holidays I know of and where they are observed.


  • December 8 - Bodhi Day (Buddhist)
  • December 8 – Hanukkah ​(Jewish)
  • December 21 - Winter Solstice (Northern Hemisphere)
  • December 21 – Pancha Ganapati (Hindu)
  • December 21 – Yule (Pagan, Germanic)
  • December 25 – Christmas Day (Christian)
  • December 26 – Boxing Day (British Commonwealth)
  • December 26 - Kwanzaa (US and Canada)
  • December 31 – New Year’s Eve (Worldwide)

 

So when we say ‘happy holidays’, its TCC’s small way of celebrating our amazing diversity and truly wishing a world of joy to all of our TCC family. ‘Happy holidays’ honors ‘Happy Hanukkah’, ‘Merry Yule’, ‘Merry Christmas’, ‘Happy Kwanzaa’, ‘Happy New Year’ and all the other festivities together. There so much good cheer going around this time of year. Let’s keep that going by embracing this season not just for the individual holidays but as a larger celebration of diversity and acceptance!​ ​


Jim


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A college is more than a collection of buildings or an online presence. A college is a community—a group of people with the same goal: to learn and to prepare for the future. And a great college is more than just a destination—it is a partner in the success of each student.

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